The key to buying a present for someone you live with, I've always thought, is getting them something you would be perfectly happy to enjoy with them, but that doesn't appear to be an act of self-interest thinly disguised as generosity (like if I came home and presented her with a weekend trip to London, then mentioned that most of it would be taken up with an Arsenal match, for example. I haven't done that, yet).
I can often strike the right note with music, as we have some similar tastes and some contrasting ones, though rarely contrasting enough to cause upset. Rosie likes ambient music and minimalist electronica a fair bit, while I enjoy it perfectly well, but wouldn't be inclined to spend money on it for myself. So when I saw the Buddha Box in Tower Records and read the slavering blurb on the wall about how it was the future of ambient music and other such guff I reckoned it might be just the ticket.
It wasn't. Essentially, I was under the impression that it might be able to do something as super fucking deadly and addictive as this magnificent thing, only in a more portable form. It does not. The latest incarnation of the Buddha Box fizzles and crackles inexplicably and plays very short, downbeat loops of a Chinese instrument called a Qu Gin. The pitch of the instrument can be altered slightly, in a manner akin to detuning a guitar. Left thrumming introspectively to itself for a little while the yoke starts to create a soundtrack to 'Futility: The Movie' and the largely ignored sequels 'Despair: Gazing Deeper into the Navel' and 'Less Than Nothing'. She politely let it play for about half an hour or so as we sat on the couch and pondered unacknowledged trees falling in the Yangtzai forest and the cubed inside of a table tennis ball, while Biscuit glared angrily at it before flopping abjectly on the floor.
A night or two later I was searching the shelves of Spiceland!*, the local Asian food shop for exciting new curry powders when my eye, invariably drawn to things of a sugary nature, alighted on colourful boxes of custard. "Rosie likes custard," I thought, "so I shall go one better and get her banana custard." €1.50 for a massive fuck-off box of it, it was, which may well have been the first portent. The second was when I opened it after dinner, gleefully announcing "I got you something special for afters," just as an acrid puff of manky bubblegum powder hit my schnozz. Undeterred, I added warm milk. I had no answers as to why it was lurid green now. I stirred briskly and fretted over whether I was doing it right, as I do when I
That night, as we lured Biscuit out of the bedroom with a turkey stick and turned in, Rosie reminded that she wouldn't be home until late the following night as she had a meeting in Kilkenny. She looked anxious. "That's grand," I said, "I'm playing poker tomorrow night instead of Thursday."
"Oh, thank fuck. I thought you were going to sit there all night listening to the Buddha Box and eating green custard with the cat like a piece of conceptual art."
*Exclamation mark my own, as I feel it really adds something there.